I follow a wonderful family on Facebook and Twitter; the Smiley Family. Sarah Smiley wrote Dinner with the Smileys, which I haven’t read yet BUT I love the stories she posts online, so, I will be downloading the book once I get some free time! Really, shame on me for not doing it yet since I enjoy her writing…
Long story short, her husband deployed for a year and while he was gone, she had her boys invite people to dinner. The guests ranged from Senators to their teachers and anywhere in between. They came and helped fill an empty spot at the dinner table. It got to the point that I would wait with excitement to see who they invited next and by the end of the year, I felt like I was a part of the family. When her husband came home, I cried.
To say that Sarah is a wonderful writer is an understatement.
She recently wrote a piece for Psychology Today blog, One True Thing, titled Grieving Lost Memories.
It was a wonderful article about a gentleman she and her boys met at an assisted living home and his wife, who has Alzheimer’s. Frank, the gentleman in the article, was quoted saying something that hit really close to home with me.
“It’s lonely,” Frank said. “My wife is here….” He patted her arm. “But, really, she’s not.”
I read that statement and thought “Yes. I get it, Frank. I do.”
I know, I know. How in the hell can a man dealing with his wife’s Alzheimer’s hit close to home? Well, it does. Very much so.
Five and a half years ago, I was married to a different man. He was self-assured. He commanded every room he walked into. Everyone wanted to be around him. Everyone wanted to talk to him. He schmoozed with the best of them.
But above all, he was my rock. He was my soul. He was my happiness.
His injured changed everything. And now there are days when I look at him and think “My husband is here…. But, really, he’s not.”
I love my husband. I do. But the man I married almost 8 years ago is not the man I am married to today. Nor am I the woman he married. His injury has made us change. It has made us different. And because of it, there are times when we do not recognize each other.
In addition to learning how to live with a chronic disability, we are both still learning how to live with a “stranger.” Some days, it felt like we were starting over. Other days, it felt like old times. It still can be a constant roller-coaster but we thankfully have many more days that feel like old times.
The worst part, though… when I truly miss my husband…. Is when I want a hug. Or a cuddle. Or just to feel close.
Quads require padding while in bed. Padding prevents bed sores. Bed sores = bad news. So, to combat this, the quad has more pillows around him than I did when I was 9 months pregnant. And trust me, I had A LOT!
Sure, I can move pillows. But do you know what it’s like hugging someone who can’t hug you back? Or even feel you close? Who may not even know you’re there since he’s sleeping and cannot feel your touch?
Empty. It feels empty.
I still haven’t figured out how to fill that void but we’re working on it. I’m working on it. It’s a daily struggle, though, and one most do not know about…
How do you explain that you need a hug? And it can only come from your husband? A real hug. Not a “quad” hug or so I call them. And until his injury is fixed, nothing will be the same. Nothing.
So yes, I get it. I see him. He is here. But he isn’t….